Articles Posted in Plea Bargaining

When you have been arrested for the suspicion of having committed a criminal offense, you will be given a court date on which you must appear before a Judge. This first court appearance is called the Arraignment. The arraignment is when the court will read you your rights, and the charges against you. The prosecutor will also give you an offer. You will then be asked to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty.

Many people are overwhelmed by the whole process and want it to be over as soon as possible. Therefore, they take the offer the prosecutor gives them that first day in court and finish their case. Although, it is a nerve wrecking experience, it is a bad idea to take the first plea that is offered without knowing your rights. There may be defenses available to you, and some weaknesses in your case that could leave a lesser charge or even a dismissal.

Without an attorney, you would not be aware of what the right offer is and what you should accept before entering a guilty plea. You may even be entering a premature plea when you could have gotten a better deal with some negotiation and bargaining.

If you have been arrested and charged on suspicion of having violated a provision of the California Penal code, there will be a set date on which you will be scheduled to appear in Court. This first appearance is referred to as an Arraignment. At the arraignment you will be explained what charges are being brought against you, you will be advised of your rights, and the Judge will ask you to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty.

At this first hearing you will have the opportunity to speak to a Prosecutor and the Prosecutor will define the consequences you will face if you plead guilty at that first appearance. You will then be asked how you would like to proceed. Pleading guilty will conclude your case and you will be sentenced the consequences the Prosecutor has offered.

You also have the option to plead not guilty. If you plead not guilty, the Judge will set another court date referred to as the Pre-Trial. The Pre-Trial will be before another Judge and in another courtroom.

When a person has been arrested for a criminal charge, they will be asked to appear before a criminal Judge. This first appearance is called an arraignment. At the arraignment the Judge will explain the charges brought against the person, and will read them their rights. These rights will include the right to an attorney and the right to a speedy trial among others.

At the arraignment the Judge will also ask the person charged to enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest. The person will also have the opportunity to speak to a Prosecutor and ask about the plea bargain. A plea bargain is an offer made by prosecutor’s in exchange for a guilty plea. The government will offer the person charged a lesser sentence or a reduced charge if they plead guilty and forfeit their right to a trial.

For example, let’s assume that Dan has been charged with driving under the influence. He did not damage any property, or injure another person. He complied with officers, has no prior criminal record and blew a .08 Blood Alcohol Level. Dan’s Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer appears on behalf of Dan and negotiates with the Prosecutor. The Prosecutor gives the lawyer a plea bargain; that if Dan pleads guilty at the arraignment, the government will reduce his charge from driving under the influence to a reckless driving charge.

California Penal Code §415 describes certain behaviors that will be considered unlawful and if proven beyond a reasonable doubt will be filed as a misdemeanor or an infraction. The following behaviors will be unlawful under the relevant penal code section:

1. Any person who unlawfully fights in a public place or challenges another person to a fight in a public place.

2. Any person who maliciously and willfully disturbs another person by loud or unreasonable noise

When a person has been arrested for a violation of the California Penal or Vehicle Code, they will be asked to appear before the Judge on set date. That date is the date of their arraignment. The arraignment is when a person enters a plea with the Judge. They may plea guilty, not guilty, or no contest.

At the arraignment the Prosecutor will also give you an offer. The offer is a plea bargain that will give you the potential sentence they can offer you, if you agree to plead guilty and not try the case. It is important to note that it is your constitutional right to have a trial, where the evidence may be presented and the ultimate verdict determined by a jury of your peers.

If you choose to take the offer given by the Prosecutor and plead guilty, you are waiving your right to a trial and to be heard. This is a very important decision and must be understood completely before any kind of offer is accepted.

When you have been arrested for a criminal charge, your case will go through several stages. First is when you get arrested. At that point, you have not been found guilty of a crime. At that point you have only allegedly committed a crime, and a court of law must find you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

The first Court appearance you make is called the arraignment. At the arraignment, you will be asked to enter a plea and will be presented with a plea bargain by the Prosecutor. You can accept the plea and plead guilty right away, or you can choose to decline the plea and plead not guilty or no contest.

If you plead not guilty, you will be given a date for Pre-Trial. At the Pre-Trial hearing you still have the opportunity to accept a settlement offer from the Prosecutor. However, you must be able to determine whether an offer is a good one, or whether you should continue on to trial. If you do not have any legal experience or have not dealt with criminal cases before, it is difficult to determine.

When you are arrested you will be given a piece of paper that will indicate the charge you are being brought under and the date and time you should appear in Court.

When you appear in Court on that date, it is called the Arraignment. This first court appearance is when the Judge explains your rights and asks you to enter a plea. If you would like a continuance to hire an attorney, you will be able to ask the Judge and they will grant you an extension so that you can hire a San Diego Criminal Defense attorney.

At the arraignment, you will also have the chance to speak to a Prosecutor. The Prosecutor will give you an offer, known as the plea bargain. Because Courts are backed up, the goal of the criminal courtroom is to have cases quickly closed. They want people to plead quickly so that they can be sentenced and the case is taken off calendar. Accordingly, the plea bargain is an offer that will ask you to plead to a lesser charge or reduced sentence in exchange that you plead guilty and not contest the charge.

This week Lindsay Lohan pleaded no contest to her Theft Case pending before the Criminal Judge in Los Angeles. The judge has already sentenced Lohan to 120 days in jail regarding her probation violation. She will likely serve about two weeks for the petty theft charge and probation officials may allow her to serve the time at home wearing an electronic surveillance bracelet.

A no contest plea, Nolo Contendere in Latin, essentially means “I do not wish to contend” the charges. It states that the defendant does not plead guilty to the charge, but doesn’t wish to dispute it either. It carries with it the same consequences as a guilty plea, but the charge may not later be used against the defendant in any civil proceedings. With a no contest plea, the person charged is subject to any and all penalties that may come with a guilty plea, including fines, jail time, and probation.

The option of pleading No Contest is available to all defendants. Many times it comes as part of a plea bargain. An experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense attorney can discuss the facts of your case and your concerns to help determine whether no contest is a plea you should consider.

Lindsay Lohan was charged with a Los Angeles Grand Theft charge in January 2011. Grand Theft in California is charged under California Penal Code §487 and is filed a felony. It will be a grand theft charge anytime the item, or property stolen is valued over $950.

The penalty as established by legislation for a grant theft conviction may or may not include jail time, a fine and/or community service. Generally probation is a part of the sentence. The range for a potential sentence will differ for each person that is charged, based on their criminal history and the specific facts surrounding their case.

The good thing is that in California a grand theft charge is a “wobbler”. A “wobbler” is a charge that can be filed as a misdemeanor or a felony. Whether it is filed as a felony or misdemeanor will depend on the facts of the case and the background of the person being charged. The government will look to see if a person has any enhancements that will favor a felony charge over a misdemeanor. Enhancements are factors that may warrant prosecution to propose a higher penalty. These factors include multiple similar charges in the person’s criminal history, or the value of the time stolen is extremely high (65,000 or higher). If a person is a habitual offender, or is on probation at the time of the charge, chances are the government will want to take it seriously and file it as a felony.

Anyone who has ever watched a courtroom drama unfold on television has often come away with the impression that the judge is the most powerful and influential player in the ultimate outcome of a DUI or other Criminal case. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In reality, it is not the judge, but the prosecutor who in most circumstances can make a significant difference between whether a case is successfully resolved through a plea bargain. Every defendant, or person charged with a DUI or Criminal charge has a choice to either work out a negotiated settlement, or have their day in court by exercising their constitutional right to have a jury trial.

In a typical case, a person is represented by an experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense attorney who reviews all of the evidence contained in the arrest reports with his client, both evaluating all of the positive evidence in his client’s defense, as well as considering all negative evidence and witnesses against his client. Once this has been done, one must evaluate its clients story, which includes all exculpatory evidence and witnesses which can show the factual weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case.